These questions will help you actively engage with your readings. Some questions ask you to talk about the reading specifically, and some ask you to use the reading to explore your own thoughts and experiences.
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Each answer should be 1-2 paragraphs. Paragraphs are typically 4-6 sentences long. A little more is OK. Less is not OK.
· Be sure to read each question carefully and answer every part of the question!
· Use at least one quote or example from the readings to support your answers.
· Properly format your submission like the template provided in the “General Information” section of Moodle.
1. Read through the Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes once quietly and once out loud. What did reciting and listening to the rhymes do for your reading experience? Which of the rhymes did you most enjoy? Why?
2. Read through the Ten Tongue Twisters once quietly and once out loud. Which tongue twisters did you have the most trouble with? What value do you see in these tongue twisters?
3. Share the Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes
or the Ten Tongue Twisters with a child or friend. Read them together! For this question, explain which poems you shared and who you shared them with. Describe their reaction. Describe how sharing these poems changed your own reading experience.
If you could not share with someone, use this question to explain which poems you would like to share and who you wish you could share them with. Why? What do you hope to give this person by sharing this experience?
4. Jacqueline Woodson begins her book-length narrative poem
Brown Girl Dreaming with “February 12, 1963.” What do you think is most effective about the ways this poem establishes the story of her life? How does this poem make history more real or relatable to you as a reader? (Be sure to include a quotation or two from the poem to support your answer.)
5. How would you describe young Jacqueline’s attitude toward her father based on “A Girl Named Jack” and “Football Dreams”? (Be sure to include a quotation or two from both poems to support your answer.)
6. What do you think is the lesson that young Jacqueline’s mother is trying to teach her in “Lessons”? Do you think the lesson is heard? (Be sure to include a quotation or two from the poem to support your answer.)
7. Woodson could easily have told her narrative in prose as a novel or as a collection of short stories. What does poetry allow her to achieve that prose could not? Use quotations from at least two poems to explain.
8. Woodson’s book
Brown Girl Dreaming is marketed as a “young adult” or “adolescent” book, and it won the 2014 National Book Award in the “Young People’s Literature” category. Do you think the poems that you read have a special appeal to young people? Why or why not? In general, do you think there should be a special category of poetry for children? Why or why not?
Poetry: From Nonsense to Narrative
In many ways, the goal of children’s poetry is similar to that of the children’s stories that we have been reading so far. Poetry can be useful in transmitting social and cultural values, and it can help children navigate common fears, challenges, and anxieties. However, poetry is often even more playful and lyrical than fairy tales or stories. In fact, the type of children’s poetry that you are most likely familiar with is the lullaby—poems for children that are often set to music. “Kumbaya,” “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Rock-a-Bye Baby” are among the most popular lullabies in the U.S.
nonsense poetry, which is purposefully unrealistic and comical, seeks to entertain and engross children in the pleasures of language. Consider the following nonsense rhyme, which may look familiar to some of you:
It’s raining, it’s pouring, The old man is snoring.
He got into bed
And bumped his head
And couldn’t get up in the morning.
This poem contains no moral, lesson, or narrative, and yet, it is incredibly catchy. Children, in particular, love rhyme and repetition, and nonsense poetry allows for pure enjoyment of the rhythms and patterns of language. As children gain more control of language, they tend to enjoy the challenge of equally nonsensical
Though nonsense poetry advocates for pure enjoyment of language, all forms of children’s poetry are thought to facilitate wordplay, lingual experimentation, creativity, and an appreciation for language.
Narrative poetry, for instance, merges an appreciation for wordplay and language with traditional storytelling techniques. As poems which tell stories and follow a traditional story arc, narrative poems often impart some moral or lesson. The added benefit of imparting a lesson through poetry is that words set to a certain pattern or rhyme scheme are easy to remember, and so if a parent or teacher wants to impress some moral upon a child, a song or poem is their best bet. Most importantly, children’s narrative poetry should strike a balance, using playful language to communicate important subject matter.
In this unit, we’ll warm-up with a few fun, nonsense poems before digging into selected poems from Jacqueline Woodson’s
Brown Girl Dreaming, a collection of narrative poems that chronicle Woodson’s coming of age. Consider how Woodson relates her personal story to the history unfolding around her, while also making use of enjoyable, whimsical language. Why do you think she chose poetry rather than prose to tell her story?
Unit 4 Assignments
Step 1. Read “A Selection of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes”
Step 2. Read “Ten Tongue Twisters”
Step 3. Read “Selections from
Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson
Step 4. Complete the
Unit 4 Reading Questions
· Be sure to read the question carefully and
answer every part of the question
· To do so, you will need to take your time to draft, revise, and proofread your work before you submit
Step 5. Complete
A Selection of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes
“Hey, Diddle, Diddle” 3. “Hush Little Baby, Don’t Say a
“Jack Be Nimble”
“This Little Piggy”
An Introduction from the Poetry Foundation
Mother Goose is often cited as the author of hundreds of children’s stories that have been passed down through oral tradition and published over centuries. Various chants, songs, and even games have been attributed to her, but she is most recognized for her nursery rhymes, which have been familiar with readers of all generations. Her work is often published as
Mother Goose Rhymes.
Despite her celebrated place in children’s literature, the exact identity and origin of Mother Goose herself is still unknown. Some believe that the original Mother Goose was a real woman who lived in Boston during the later half of the 17th century. After being widowed by Isaac Goose, a woman named either Elizabeth Foster Goose or Mary Goose (depending on sources) moved in with her eldest daughter, entertaining her grandchildren with amusing jingles which quickly gained popularity with the neighborhood children. According to the legend, her son-in-law, a publisher, printed her rhymes, and thus the reputation of Mother Goose was born.
However, literary historians often dismiss the possibility of a Bostonian Mother Goose, as the existence of various French texts that refer to Mother Goose at a much earlier date make the American legend improbable. These texts, dating as early as 1626, even show that the French terms “mere l’oye” or “mere oye” (Mother Goose) were already familiar to readers and could be referenced. The figure of Mother Goose may even date back as the 10th century, according to other sources. In an ancient French legend, King Robert II had a wife who often told incredible tales that fascinated children.
Regardless of Mother Goose’s origins, Charles Perrault was the first to actually publish a Mother Goose collection of rhymes and other folk tales in 1697, essentially initiating the fairy tale genre. With the subtitle
Les Contes de ma Mère l’Oie (Tales of my Mother Goose), the collection quickly gained popularity all over France. By 1729, Perrault’s collection had been translated into English, in the form of Robert Samber’s
Histories or Tales of Past Times, Told by Mother Goose. Samber’s volume was eventually republished in 1786 and brought to the U.S.
English publisher of children’s literature John Newbery later focused on the nursery rhymes, publishing
Mother Goose’s Melody, or, Sonnets for the Cradle, which helped Mother Goose become further associated with children’s poetry.
Hey, Diddle, Diddle
Hey, diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.
Hush Little Baby
Hush little baby, don’t say a word, Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.
And if that mockingbird won’t sing, Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.
And if that diamond ring turns to brass, Papa’s gonna buy you a looking glass.
And if that looking glass gets broke, Papa’s gonna buy you a billy goat.
And if that billy goat won’t pull, Papa’s gonna buy you a cart and bull.
And if that cart and bull turn over, Papa’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover.
And if that dog named Rover won’t bark, Papa’s gonna buy you a horse and cart.
And if that horse and cart fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town!
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
Jack Be Nimble
Jack be nimble,
Jack be quick,
Jack jump over
This Little Piggy
This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed home,
This little piggy had roast beef, This little piggy had none.
This little piggy went … “Wee, wee, wee,” all the way home!
Ten Tongue Twisters
Collected by Claudia Pesce
Classic Tongue Twisters
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers? If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? He would chuck, he would, as much as he could, and chuck as much wood as a woodchuck would if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
Easy Tongue Twisters
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
I Saw Susie
I saw Susie sitting in a shoe shine shop.
Medium Tongue Twisters
Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear. Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair. Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t very fuzzy, was he?
Can you can a can
Can you can a can as a canner can can a can?
I have got a date
I have got a date at a quarter to eight; I’ll see you at the gate, so don’t be late.
Two witches, two watches
If two witches would watch two watches, which witch would watch which watch?
Difficult Tongue Twisters
Betty Botter had some butter, “But,” she said, “this butter’s bitter. If I bake this bitter butter, it would make my batter bitter. But a bit of better butter – that would make my batter better.”
So she bought a bit of butter, better than her bitter butter, and she baked it in her batter, and the batter was not bitter. So ’twas better Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter.
When a doctor doctors a doctor, does the doctor doing the doctoring doctor as the doctor being doctored wants to be doctored or does the doctor doing the doctoring doctor as he wants to doctor?
Selected Poems from Jacqueline Woodson’s
Brown Girl Dreaming
Introduction 2. February 12, 1963 3. A Girl Named Jack 4. Football Dreams
An Introduction from the Poetry Foundation
Jacqueline Woodson was born in Columbus, Ohio and grew up in Greenville, South Carolina and Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of over 30 books for children and adults, including
From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun (1995), recipient of both the
Coretta Scott King Honor and the Jane
Addams Children’s Book Award;
Boys (2000), which also won the Coretta
Scott King Award, and the
Los Angeles Times
Hush (2002), which was a National Book Award Finalist;
Locomotion (2003), also a National Book Award Finalist;
Coming on Home Soon (2004), a Caldecott Honor Book and a
Booklist Editors’ Choice; and
Behind You (2004), which was included in the New York Public Library’s list of best
Books of the Teen Age. Three of Woodson’s books have won the Newbery Honor:
Show Way (2005),
Feathers (2007), and
After Tupac & D Foster (2008). Her recent books include the young adult novel
Beneath a Meth Moon (2012); and
Brown Girl Dreaming (2014), a novel in verse about Woodson’s family and segregation in the South, which won the National Book Award and the Newbery Honor Award. In an op-ed for the
New York Times, Woodson described how she wrote the book
: “As I interviewed relatives in both Ohio and Greenville, SC, I began to piece together the story of my mother’s life, my grandparents’ lives and the lives of cousins, aunts and uncles. These stories, and the stories I had heard throughout my childhood, were told with the hope that I would carry on this family history and American history, so that those coming after me could walk through the world as armed as I am.” Woodson’s books for adults include
Red at the Bone (2019).
Woodson has received numerous honors and awards for her many books. She was given the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults, the St.
Katharine Drexel Award, the Anne V. Zarrow Award for Young Readers’ Literature and the Hans Christian Anderson Award. Jonathan Demme is adapting her novel
Beneath a Meth Moon (2012) for the screen. In 2016 she received an honorary degree from Adelphi University. From 2018–2019 she was the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. In 2020 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellow.
Woodson served as the Poetry Foundation’s Young People’s Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017.
She currently lives in Brooklyn with her family.
February 12, 1963
I am born on a Tuesday at University Hospital
a country caught between Black and White.
I am born not long from the time or far from the place where my great-great-grandparents worked the deep rich land unfree dawn till dusk unpaid drank cool water from scooped-out gourds looked up and followed the sky’s mirrored constellation to freedom.
I am born as the South explodes, too many people too many years enslaved, then emancipated but not free, the people who look like me keep fighting and marching and getting killed so that today— February 12, 1963 and every day from this moment on, brown children like me can grow up free. Can grow up learning and voting and walking and riding wherever we want.
I am born in Ohio but the stories of South Carolina already run like rivers through my veins.
A Girl Named Jack
Good enough name for me, my father said the day I was born.
Don’t see why she can’t have it, too.
But the women said no.
My mother first.
Then each aunt, pulling my pink blanket back patting the crop of thick curls tugging at my new toes touching my cheeks.
We won’t have a girl named Jack, my mother said.
And my father’s sisters whispered,
A boy named Jack was bad enough.
But only so my mother could hear.
Name a girl Jack, my father said,
and she can’t help but grow up strong. Raise her right, my father said,
and she’ll make that name her own. Name a girl Jack and people will look at her twice, my father said.
For no good reason but to ask if her parents were crazy, my mother said.
And back and forth it went until I was Jackie and my father left the hospital mad.
My mother said to my aunts,
Hand me that pen, wrote
Jacqueline where it asked for a name. Jacqueline, just in case someone thought to drop the
Jacqueline, just in case
I grew up and wanted something a little bit longer and further away from
No one was faster than my father on the football field. No one could keep him from crossing the line. Then touching down again. Coaches were watching the way he moved, his easy stride, his long arms reaching up, snatching the ball from its soft pockets of air.
My father dreamed football dreams, and woke up to a scholarship at Ohio State University.
living the big-city life in Columbus just sixty miles from Nelsonville and from there Interstate 70 could get you on your way west to Chicago Interstate 77 could take you south but my father said no colored Buckeye in his right mind would ever want to go there.
From Columbus, my father said,
you could go just about anywhere
The first time I write my full name
Jacqueline Amanda Woodson
without anybody’s help
on a clean white page in my composition notebook, I know if I wanted to
I could write anything.
Letters becoming words, words gathering meaning, becoming
thoughts outside my head becoming sentences written by
Jacqueline Amanda Woodson
My mother has a gap between her two front teeth. So does Daddy Gunnar. Each child in this family has the same space connecting us.
Our baby brother, Roman, was born pale as dust. His soft brown curls and eyelashes stop people on the street.
Whose angel child is this? they want to know. When I say,
My brother, the people wear doubt thick as a cape until we smile and the cape falls.
My mother says:
When Mama tried to teach me
to make collards and potato salad I didn’t want to learn.
She opens the box of pancake mix, adds milk and eggs, stirs. I watch grateful for the food we have now—syrup waiting in the cabinet, bananas to slice on top.
It’s Saturday morning. Five days a week, she leaves us to work at an office back in Brownsville.
Saturday we have her to ourselves, all day long.
Me and Kay didn’t want to be inside cooking.
She stirs the lumps from the batter, pours it into the buttered, hissing pan.
Wanted to be with our friends running wild through Greenville.
There was a man with a peach tree down the road.
One day Robert climbed over that fence, filled a bucket with peaches. Wouldn’t share them with any of us but told us where the peach tree was. And that’s where we wanted to be sneaking peaches from that man’s tree, throwing the rotten ones at your uncles!
Mama wanted us to learn to cook.
Ask the boys, we said. And Mama knew that wasn’t fair girls inside and the boys going off to steal peaches! So she let all of us stay outside until suppertime.
And by then, she says, putting our breakfast on the table,
it was too late.